Tuesday, August 31, 2010

75 Favorite Moments in DC History: Number 54

54. Despero gets a cape (Justice League America #38, 1990, collected nowhere, unfortunately.)

Amidst all the merriment and silliness of the day-to-day shennanigens of the Justice League Intenational, a dark threat was growing in outer space.  Literally.

Defeated a long time ago (I don't really know when, probably in the 1960's), the Justice League beat Despero, and he spent some time chilling in space.  He then came alive again, as an agent of pure hatred, and fell to Earth, crashing through a flagpole bearing the United Nations flag:

For whatever reason, Despero left the flag on as an impromptu cape, and clad in the now-disgraced symbol of international unity, he went on to cause all sorts of horrors for the Justice League International.

It's a scary and powerful symbol, just like Despero.

Frank, of the Idol-Head of Diabolu, also included the next issue, #39, which covers the battle and ensuing aftermath, in his DC75 Moments.

Oh, and here's another treat.  Issue #38 ends with this Dramatic(!) moment:

When the Martian is angry enough to point at you, you know you're in BIG trouble.

Two Batmen? I've got a better idea...

I recently caught sight of the New York Post article last night detailing Dan Didio's plans for Dick Grayson to continue as Batman alongside the newly-returned Bruce Wayne.

Well, I've got a better idea.

How about this:

Plus this:

Yeah, that's right.  TWO Batgirls.  I've said it before and I'll say it again.  Cassandra Cain plus Stephanie Brown would be fun.  They've each got different personalities (unlike Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson, with the latter just being a muted copy of the former), different fighting styles, they're both great characters for different reasons, and they're fun to read.  And, as a bonus, they're already friends:

Now who wouldn't want to see that?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

75 Favorite Moments in DC History: Number 55

55.  Two-Face gets a cupcake.  (Yes, you read that right.)  (Detective Comics #747, 2000, collected in Gotham Central Volume 2, "Half a Life," 2005 and New Gotham: Volume 1, 2001)

"Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones," said Phillips Brooks, a guy who I don't know from Adam but just found a quote from through a quick Google search.

Face it, comic books are about BIG moments.  Planets blowing up and things being thrown into the sun and all that.  And while that's fine and good, it's a lot easier to relate to the smaller things in life.

The single-issue story in Detective Comics #747 is all about a day in the life of Gotham police detective Renee Montoya, specifically, her twenty-ninth birthday.  A small mystery crops up when an unsigned bouquet of flowers arrives on her desk.

Amidst the day-to-day tasks of a detective, like testifying in court and putting up with obnoxious partners, Detective Montoya goes about solving the mystery of the unsigned flowers and finds out it was none other than Bruce Wayne who sent her the flowers.

Or was it?

Since this takes place right after No Man's Land, during which Montoya caught the eye of Harvey Dent and/or Two-Face (you're left guessing which side (or both) is enamoured with her.  Though the truth is revealed in Rucka's No Man's Land novelization), Montoya surmises Bruce Wayne did sent the flowers on behalf of Dent.

This is the Batman I like: the one who still believes in redemption, who has a heart, who would do a favor for an old friend, which to me is much more heroic than just running around beating the stuffing out of criminals proclaiming you are the night.  It's also the same Batman that was on the animated series back in the early 90's.

So, Montoya decides (grudgingly) to go visit Harvey:

Dammit, Dent!  I said off the phone already!

And, Batman leaves one of his friendly neighborhood Batman notes in Renee's car:

See?  Even Batman knows villains need to be loved.

Oh, and the type of flowers Two-Face sent Montoya?  Tulips.  Do you know how many times I read this story and STILL didn't figure out why it should be tulips?  I also just realized now that the color scheme throughout this issue is made up of only two colors.  I may not be the sharpest tack in the tool shed, but hey, that doesn't stop me from trying.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Read a Comic in Public Today!

Today is International Read a Comic in Public Day!  So go out there and read a comic.

I don't have any plans to "go public" today, so I celebrated yesterday.  I was at the doctor's for four hours getting a simple (albeit ridiculously long) test done, and brought along some comics.  A little boy whose mother was having the same test done was sitting next to me, and try as I might to catch his attention with my copy of DC Universe Legacies, he was too busy with his iPod to notice.  (Then he took out a real book and read that.  The horror!)  So, I failed to seduce another innocent into the cult of comics.  Oh, well.

On the upside, my doctor's office had a copy of the Green Lantern preview of Entertainment Weekly and I snatched that baby right up.  I gotta say, I hate the suit.  I just like the classic uniform best.  I'm a traditionalist.  Then I kept on pestering my mother by making loud comments, like "Aw, they got the mask all wrong," and "Hey, the guy playing Hammond is the guy who was on NYPD Blue.  Oh, wait, no.  It just looks like him," and "Oh, geez, the girl is from Gossip Girl?" which eventually did engage my mother into conversation.

Mom: So, Green Lantern?  I guess they're running out of characters?
Me: Ma, there's literally hundreds of superheroes in the DC Universe!
Mom: But does anyone know who they are?  Who's left?
Me: The Flash.
Mom: Who's he again?
Me: You know.  He wears a runs real fast and wears a red suit?
Mom: Sounds vaguely familiar.  Is that the guy playing Green Lantern?  He's good-looking.
Me: ... His hair's all wrong.

What can I say?  I'm hard to please.

Oh, and the ring is wrong, too.

Clothes Make the Man. (Or Villain.)

Quick: think of three memorably-dressed villains who wear a suit.  Got them in mind?  Good.  I'll bet you a dollar that Two-Face is on your list.

Anyone read last week's Batman: Streets of Gotham?  If you didn't, who is this guy?:

C'mon, DC!  Have you no shame?  Putting Two-Face--a character with a wardrobe so iconic it's probably only second to the Joker--in a hoodie?  What exactly are you trying to communicate to the reader with a sweatshirt?  That the cost of dry cleaning really has gone up in recent months?

I guess I'm either a very visual person, or just a very superficial one, because I get hung up a lot on a character's appearance.  (I call it "design" and that make me feel better about myself.)  Maybe I'm wrong, but I put a lot of stock into a character's appearance, and I think a character's looks, and what a character chooses to wear (or not to wear), are a crucial point of reference to who the character is.  It's a visual medium, so I guess I'm allowed to be superficially judgmental.  Taking away the iconic two-tone suit is like taking away Two-Face's coin.  It's a part of who he is.  Just like giving Booster Gold a buzz cut was wrong.  He's a dandy.  He has to have ridiculously elaborate, never-out-of-place hair that takes hours to style because that's the kind of guy he is.  It says something about him.  Likewise, Two-Face needs to spend ridiculous amounts of time with two different colored suits, a seam ripper, and a sewing machine on a regular basis.

Sure, he can wear a hoodie if he wants to.  For a scene or two.  But for the whole book?  Nope.

I wasn't the only one who picked up on it, because a (positive) review of the issue at Panels on Pages mentioned it, too:
Gone is the dichotomy inspired wardrobe and villain lairs and in their place we have Harvey Dent in a hooded sweatshirt hiding out in a subway car full of silent, terrorized Gothamites.
They also mention the writing as "solid."  I wouldn't go that far.  It's not bad, but it's rather un-ambitious and shallow, just going through the motions.  It's too bad the writers eschewed Dent's point-of-view and internal motivations all together and instead took on an objective third person narration.  I like to see inside a villain's mind.  Maybe if they had done that, I'd know why he decided to wear that silly sweatshirt.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

75 Favorite Moments in DC History: Number 56

56.  Booster Gold, meet Rip Hunter.  Rip Hunter, meet Booster Gold.  (Booster Gold v1 #13, 1987, collected in DC Showcase Presents: Booster Gold Volume 1)

For the past few days I've had my nose buried in my copy of Showcase Presents: Booster Gold.  I bought it on a whim a year ago and never got around to reading it, and it's been quite the surprise.  (But more on that later.)

Anyway, about a third of the way in (in the middle of a multiple-issue story) Booster suddenly and inexplicably gets my brother's ridiculous haircut from high school an ugly buzz cut.  So my first reaction was, "Why'd Jurgens do that?" and the second reaction of course was, "Crap.  How long do I have to look at this?" and then I flipped through the rest of the book trying to find out.  (Yes, I am this superficial.)

I mean, why change Booster from this look:
Hal Jordan, eat your heart out.

To this?
Cue flashbacks to my childhood.

Well, the answer became evident in issue #13, when Booster Gold meets up with Rip Hunter.  It's because Rip Hunter has the exact same hair, right down to the color and style.  (Anyone who's read the current series will know why.)  So, I'm guessing they didn't want two people running around looking like carbon copies of each other.  And who knew Rip Hunter was so fabulous?  I hadn't a clue.

Hal Jordan...oh, heck, I got nothing.

Well, this is a momentous meeting for both characters, as Rip pretty much hasn't left Booster's side since.  I never realized the relationship went that far back, but without it we probably wouldn't have the current "Time Masters" pairing of Rip Hunter and Booster Gold seen in 52 and now in his new series.  Plus, Rip Hunter's just a cool guy and deserves a higher profile.  Not only is he a scientist, but he can kick some serious butt, too, and who else can pull off a white t-shirt and jeans as their superhero "uniform?"

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

75 Favorite Moments in DC History: Number 57

57.  Mars is destroyed (Justice League of America #71, 1969, collected in Showcase Presents: Justice League of America Volume 4)

The history of Mars in the DC univsere hasn't been a stable one.  It started out peaceful in J'onn's earliest appearances, and then we learned that it lived up to its name and was stricken with a world-wide civil war, before being changed back to mostly peaceful again.  (I think I've got all the bases covered...maybe.)

Anyway, during the original run of the Justice League of America, J'onn came back to enlist the help of his JLA friends to save his home planet from a greedy pale-skinned Martian warlord named Commander Blanx.

As is oft with a Martian Manhunter story, its is steeped in tragedy, and there is little in the way of a happy ending.  J'onn and the JLA fail to stop Blanx before he incinerates the whole planet.

The good news is that Blanx is vanquished, but it is little consolation after the destruction of a world.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

75 Favorite Moments in DC History: Number 58

58.  Harvey Dent argues against Two-Face (Detective Comics #739, collected in Batman: No Man's Land, 1999).

Well, it's no secret that I'm a big sucker for a Two-Face appearance, no matter how small.  The gigantic Batman crossover No Man's Land featured Two-Face quite prominently.  He was still being characterized as a gangster with split personalities ("dissociative identity disorder" being the proper term for it nowadays), which, as I'm reading more comics, I'm starting to like less and less.  (It's Scipio's fault, really.)

Anyway, the lawlessness of No Man's Land provided the perfect opportunity for Two-Face to set up his very own courtroom, which never ceases to amuse me.  Frankly, I think the writers could've milked this a little more for what it's worth (perhaps they did in the issues that weren't collected in the trades.)  But what I think makes Two-Face the "scariest" (when written correctly) villain is, that, like Batman, he believes in justice, albeit a darker shade of justice.  Vigilante heroes, by definition, operate outside the law to administer justice when the legitimate justice system can't.  Why should Harvey Dent's version of vigilante justice be any less legitimate than Batman's?

Well, that's a topic to be explored for another day.  But, back to No Man's Land.  Basically, Harvey's little courtroom involved putting Jim Gordon on trial.  Two-Face was the prosecution, and Harvey Dent, after Renee Montoya's pleading, became the defense, and both sides of his personality argue against each other.  (Which I find a bit of a stretch.  I mean, a D.A. playing defense attorney?)

Here you go:

They never tell you who the stenographer is...

It is a bit over-the-top, but, hey, it's Gotham, so what do you expect?

Monday, August 23, 2010

DC 75: Twenty-One Cool Booster Gold Covers

I was inspired by Frank's collection of top covers he's compiled.  I figured I'd throw my hat into the ring.  I already picked out some Adam Strange covers a while ago, and now I decided to pick out some Booster Gold covers.  I don't think I'm really qualified to say what's the best and what isn't, so don't put too much stock in the order here.  I mostly judged by the quality of the art and just personal preference.  With artists like Dan Jurgens, Kevin Maguire, and Adam Hughes drawing most of Booster's solo covers, you really can't lose.

Anyway, without further ado:

Twenty-One Top Booster Gold Covers

21.  Booster Gold v2 #34, 2010
A moment from the JLI is reflected in Booster's goggles.  Drawn by Kevin Maguire.

20.  Booster Gold v2 #3, 2007
Did I ever tell you how much I like word bubbles on covers?  A lot.  Plus, this is amusing.

19.  Justice League Unlimited #43, 2008
Blue and Gold dreaming of fame and glory, JLU-style.  Awfully cute.

18.  Booster Gold v2 #21, 2009.
Booster Gold reconizes the poser Batman, Dick Grayson.  He's not as dumb as he looks.

17.  Booster Gold v1 #20, 1987
Dramatic cover, and Booster sans-goggles.

16.  Booster Gold v2 #23, 2009
*Edtied to add: Thanks to Saranga's suggestion.  Somehow, while throughout hours of looking at Booster Gold covers, I remembered this one, but then forgot to put it on my list.  What can I say?  I get distracted easily.  The photo cover is unusual, but it works so well here becuase it's a real-life fan wearing a real-life t-shirt (that you can actually buy!).  That kind of product placement would make Booster proud.  I find it all rather hilarious.  And now I want that shirt, and when someone asks me who Booster Gold is, I'll be obligated to reply, "The Greatest Hero You Never Heard Of!(TM)"

15.  Booster Gold v2 #10, 2008
More of a Blue Beetle cover than a Booster Gold cover, but dramatic nonetheless.

14.  Booster Gold v2 #13, 2008
I mentioned how much I like word bubbles earlier, right?  A nice cover by Chris Batista.

13.  Justice League Quarterly #7, 1992
Just simple and sweet, with lots of smiles.

12.  Booster Gold v2 #1, 2008
The first issue of Booster's new series.  A really cool cover.  It's unfortunate that the headshot of Max got covered up by the title.

11.  Booster Gold v2 #17, 2009
I know, I'm going a little heavy on the new series.  But the covers are so pretty!  Look at all the colors!  And the shininess!

10.  Booster Gold v1 #25, 1988
The cover from Booster Gold's final issue of his first series.  Anyone else notice how much he's sucking in his gut?

9.  Booster Gold v2 #18, 2009
Just Booster and Rip looking cool.  And a time sphere.  And the scarab.  And a sword?

8.  Booster Gold v2 #32 and #33, 2010
Could he get any shinier?!  The first one deserves to be a foil cover.  I consider these a set, so I didn't break them up.  Much like the Lobo vs. Guy Gardner pair of covers back in the JLI years.  Oh, that Kevin Maguire....just look at that crooked smile.  It's perfect.

7.  Justice League Quarterly #1, 1990
Nevermind Booster for the moment, what's going on between Gypsy and J'onn?  Not to mention Ice hiding in the background and Ted's holding up the UPC symbol, and Flash is asleep.  But you know what's really hilarious?  Batman's head being completely covered by the title.  Adam Hughes hit this one out of the park.

6.  Booster Gold v2 #11, 2008
Dramatic and well-drawn by Dan Jurgens.  Check out the reflections.  You just can't have images inside your costume unless it's shiny.  Take that, Batman.

5.  52 #37, 2007
Guess who else is shiny?  Skeets.

4.  Justice League International #8, 1987
An iconic cover of the JLI era, and very amusing.  Wouldn't it be cool if you could hire superhero movers?

3.  Booster Gold v2 #7, 2008
Really awesome composition and use of perspective here.  Just look at all those angles (not just the angles of the buildings, mind you) and see how they all come together.  That's skill.  Dan Jurgens is an artist I really admire.

2.  Justice League America #37, 1990
One of my all-time favorite JLI issues.  (Heck, one of my all-time favorites issues, period.)  Adam Hughes evokes pure horror on the expressions of all four characters (gotta love Beetle in Ice's arms) all because of, yes, a stray cat.

1.  Justice League America #34, 1990
Well, here it is: my all-time favorite Booster Gold cover.  Also, my favorite Blue Beetle cover.  And my favorite JLI cover.  It's a trifecta of awesomeness.  I can't figure out which is more hilarious: the fact that Booster shaves his chest, or the fact that Ted doesn't.  I also never realized until now that Booster appears to be wearing a Speedo and Ted is wearing scarab beetle trunks.  It can't get better than that!  And bonus: angry Max being restrained by Batman and J'onn.

Honorable Mentions:

Booster Gold #36, 2010
Okay, so it hasn't been released yet, but it's really cool.  Not only is it symbolic (the red on the back of the puzzle piece makes it), but Kevin Maguire shows us once again that not only is he a master at drawing anatomy, but that he can pull off difficult perspectives with ease.

Cover from 52 trade paperback, Volume 4, 2007
Well, it's not from a single issue, so I didn't count it.  But it's nicely done and I like the color scheme.

So, there you have it!  I hope you enjoyed the list!

75 Favorite Moments in DC History: Number 59

59.  The Martian Manhunter remembers his past.  (Martian Manhunter miniseries #4 (of 4), 1988.)

There was a quantum leap* between the backstory of the modern Martian Manhunter and the Martian Manhunter of the Silver Age.  When J'onn first debuted in the 50's, he was plucked from a living Mars, and even had parents, whom he communicated with once or twice.  In his modern incarnation, he's older, he had a wife and daughter, who died in a worldwide plague that swept Mars eons ago.

The bridge between those two different incarnations was a miniseries published in 1988 by J.M. DeMatteis.  Through the four issues of this miniseries, J'onn's repressed memories come to the fore, and he remembers the past, including his natural Martian form, and realizes the life he had been living before was an artifice.

So, the stars aligned, because we have a favorite moment of mine here that also bears historical significance.

The art's a little odd.  Not really a favorite in that respect.

*Yeah, I know, "quantum leap" is kind of an oxymoron.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

75 Favorite Moments in DC History: Number 60

60.  Ted Kord makes a tough decision (Booster Gold #10, Collected in Booster Gold: Volume 2, Blue and Gold, 2008.)

There's one thing I really like in stories: movies, novels, comics, and so on.


Not DRAMA, but Drama.  In my mind, there's a difference.  DRAMA is all about perception, e.g. "My life sucks because my father won't let me to the prom unless my older sister goes and she has no date!  So now you're supposed to sympathize with me becuase I'm telling you to sympathize with me!"*  Whereas capital-D Drama is "My life sucks because I just found out the evil overlord of the entire galaxy--who just cut off my hand, no less!--is my father!  And now I don't know what to do!"**


Say what you want about Geoff Johns.  I'm nowhere near being his number one fan, but for the most part, he does know how to tell a good story.  (Even if he changes the past to suit his storytelling needs, i.e. casual retconning.  But we'll ignore that for now.)  Geoff Johns understands Drama.  He's got a pretty good sense of plot and pacing, but really what I think he excels at (at least in his run on Booster Gold), is the character drama, or in this case, melodrama.  And when it's done right, I like a good melodrama.  I find it cathartic.

The first two volumes (or first twelve issues, depending on how you like to count), even right up the last panel of the last page, are chock-full of Drama(!).  Johns has a way of magnifying concepts to the point where they become these gigantic, overarching themes reaching (pre-prequel) George Lucas monomythic levels of collective subconscious identification.  In other words, if another writer had written this book, it would've been about friendship.  With Johns behind the wheel it becomes Friendship.  That's right: Geoff Johns's sole superpower is the ability to turn an ordinary noun into a proper one.

The motif of Friendship, more specifically, Best Friendship, has been distilled to its purest form and peppered throughout the book at every plot point, every major decision, every important dialogue, every symbol.  Geoff Johns has read up on screenwriting, and it shows.  In a good way, that is.  When Geoff Johns is given a theme, he can do great things with it, otherwise his writing is just above-average.  (i.e. Blackest Night.  Was it really about anything?)

The premise is simple: how far would you go to save your best friend from dying?  Most of us have had best friends (I hope, at least.  Best friends are wonderful things!), so almost everyone can relate to this, and if you've lost a best friend for whatever reason, even more so.  So, because of all this Dramatic storytelling, you realize how important Friendship is between Booster Gold and Blue Beetle, and you realize how far Booster will go to save his friend.  Heck, you even realize what close friends Booster and Skeets are, and you really start to get fond of that little robot.  (Especially when he duels another security droid--more on that later.)

Through a series of events that come to critical mass in issue #10, you'll know that Blue and Gold's Friendship came at a price, and then you'll finally come to a realization right before Ted Kord does, but before Booster has any inkling of what's been decided.  (So you know your dramatic irony as well, Mr. Johns.  Well played, Mr. Johns.  Well played.)  And, just like Hitchcock's proverbial bomb underneath the table, you know how it's going to end:

I love his parting line.

That, my friends, is Drama.

You're a swell guy, Ted.  You better come back soon.

*The premise of Ten Things I Hate About You.  Frankly, I didn't care much about the heroine's so-called life-shattering predicament.

**If you need me to tell you what movie this is from, you are banished from this blog forever.  Banished, I tell you!!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Who Knew Martians Were So Hypocritical?!

In lieu of posting another moment in the 75 countdown, I had to post this.  After doing some cruising on Boosterific (I seem to have Booster Gold on the brain lately), I happened upon this comic by the very funny Eyz of G33K Life, and couldn't resist the urge to post it here.

Click to enlarge if you need to!

All I can say is: BWA-HA-HA!

You can view the original here, and check out Eyz's blog here.  He graciously allowed me to repost it.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

75 Favorite Moments in DC History: Number 61

61.  Skeets knows lolspeak (Booster Gold #1, 2007, collected in Booster Gold Volume 1)

Another endearing bit of silliness.  I like teh silly, what can I say?  I also love sarcastic robots.  When I was a kid, my life's ambitionw as to own K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider.  I adored that car.  It was black, it was sleek, it was sarcastic.  I thought by the year 2000 I'd have either a flying car or a smart-mouthed talking car, but noooo, science had to disappoint me on both those fronts.

But I digress.

Doesn't Skeets remind you just a little bit of K.I.T.T.?  Not only that, but apparently he visits icanhascheezburger.com on a regular basis:

Honestly, CW, if you're looking for a show to replace Smallville, go with these two.

I love Skeets.  Who wouldn't want a little know-it-all robot following you around and telling you how awsome you are?  I'd take him over a flying car any day.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

75 Favorite Moments in DC History: Number 62

62.  The greatest villain you've never heard of makes his first and last appearance.  (Detective Comics #292, 1961, collected in DC Showcase Presents: Martian Manhunter Volume 1)

Okay, so this is a throwaway.  But I had to include it because it is pure silliness, and it involves squirrels, and I just can't say no to either of those things.  Plus, my internet connection has decided to act up, so I can't upload too many pictures.

So, drumroll please as I humbly present to you, the greatest villain ever, The Human Squirrel:

Now, just in case you didn't know, that's a man in that giant squirrel suit.  When I showed this picture to my best friend, she asked, "How does he get his knees to bend backwards like that?!"  Oh, dearest best friend.  You just aren't ready yet for the Silver Age.  (Yet this same best friend can rattle off every crazy Smallville plot, so she's got some potential.)

I like The Human Squirrel for a couple of reasons, one being that it's so darned ridiculous for a man to dress up in a squirrel outfit to rob banks that I can't help but like it.  The second being that I have a long history with people thinking I like squirrels more than I actually do.  It's all a very complicated story, but it originated during high school when I used to run betting pools on who would win whenever two squirrels happened to be fighting outside the window of our AP Calculus class.  Suffice to say, it became an in-joke, and I received a lot of squirrel figurines as Christmas/birthday/thinking of you gifts because of it.  I now have squirrel figurines are all over my house.  So, the moral of the story, children, is to be careful what you bet on, because you'll find your house overrun with representations of it for all eternity.

Monday, August 16, 2010

75 Favorite Moments in DC History: Number 63

63. Batman Adventures goes noir (Batman Adventures #8, collected in The Batman Adventures Vol. 2, 1993.

I have a soft spot for comics written for "kids," even the silliest definitely-for-four-year-olds titles.  But every now and then you'll find a children's comic with a depth to it that can be appreciated by both younger and grown-up readers.  Plus, the simplicity in storytelling has a way of highlighting the theme with the kind of clarity you just don't see in grown-up comics.  I really am a fan of the obvious, what can I say?

Anyway, this issue of The Batman Adventures, penned by Kelly Puckett, has a sense of pathos at its core layered over with tones of noir.  (It's title, "Larcey, My Sweet," is even a riff of Murder, My Sweet, the title of a 1944 Philip Marlowe film noir classic movie.)

There's not much I can tell you about the story without spoiling the ending.  But basically it's about a young Gotham reporter falling in love with a man who may or may not be on the wrong side of the law. What never ceases to amaze me about (good) kids' comics is how an entire story can be told efficiently and powerfully in just a single issue, whereas in grown-up comics the same story would take four issues.

When I grow up, I want my fist to say "CHOK!" whenever I punch someone.

The Batman Adventures, like the cartoon, was heavy on atmosphere, and penned dark and seedy, and there's a whole lot of things in there you wouldn't expect in a kid's comic: cigarettes, liqour, Playboy Bunnies (selling cigars of all things), and a Danny Devito-esque concierge at a sleazy rooms-by-the-hour hotel.  (Plus my personal favorite: thugs in Fedoras.)  It's amazing the kinds of things you notice when you're all grown up.

I was telling the truth about the Playboy Bunnies part.  Danny Devito?  That's up for interpretation.

Plus, looking back, you realize how much animated Bruce Wayne's appearance has been streamlined down into almost a charicature.  Remember when Bruce Wayne actually had a nose?  And hair that didn't look painted on?

Anyway, it's a good story, and a single-issue story is a refreshing break from the complexity of grown-up titles that seem to go on for ages.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

75 Favorite Moments in DC History: Number 64

64.  Young Hal Jordan takes a trip to the stars (Green Lantern: Secret Files and Origins, collected in Green Lantern: No Fear, 2005.)

There are two comic creators who can do no wrong in my eyes.  One of them is Darwyn Cooke.

Likewise, there are two ways people generally feel about Hal Jordan: you either love him or you hate him. My little pet theory on Hal Jordan polarization is that he's more liked by the female demographic than the male, thus proving the pop psychology maxim that deep down, girls are suckers for a smartass in a bomber jacket with nice hair.  Swap out the bomber jacket for striped pants and a blaster and you've got Han Solo.  You get the picture.

Anyway, my introduction to Hal Jordan was via Darwyn Cooke's DC: New Frontier, which showed Hal Jordan in a light very different from most comic book heroes: he actually wanted something, and yearned for something in much the same way that great characters from literature or classic films do.  Rick Blaine wants Ilsa, Jay Gatsby wants Daisy, and Hal Jordan wants the stars.  I don't see Hal Jordan written with such desire outside of any Darwyn Cooke comics, however, and the only comic book character who has a similar yearning is the Martian Manhunter, but more on that later.

Anywho, in a story showing Hal Jordan as a child, we see that yearning for adventure as he idolizes his father, a fighter pilot, despite his disapproving mother.  His dad then wakes him in the middle of the night to take him on a flight, with an unforseen twist:

Hal's dad looks like an actor from the 50's but I can't place him.  Rock Hudson, maybe?  Anyone?

Now who wouldn't want a father like that?

And here, in this beautiful panel, don't you feel like you're flying along with Hal?

Sheer beauty, that's all I can say.

Though Geoff Johns is credited with the script, I think he lifted a few ideas from Cooke's interpretation of Hal in DC: New Frontier.  I could be wrong, but that's just a hunch.  But one thing I know for certain: Darwyn Cooke needs to be drawing (and writing) more comics for DC.